J-5! J-5! J-5!” Coachella, 10:35pm, Friday April 12, 2013. The incessant chanting from the tens of thousands of revellers at the outdoor stage is overwhelming. Akil, Zaakir, Mark 7even, DJ Nu-Mark, Chali 2na and Cut Chemist are all understandably nervous. It’s been six years since they’ve performed together, having called it quits back in 2007.
“Coachella was such a big moment for us, being that it was our first show back,” says Mark 7even. “I mean, it’s Coachella!” he laughs. “It’s huge. It’s one of the biggest festivals in the world.” Indeed, their comeback show solidified their status as hip hop royalty. Taking to the stage and performing a bombastic slew of hits from their classic back catalogue, including ‘Quality Control’, ‘Concrete Schoolyard’ and ‘Freedom’, the rock-solid set was met with rave reviews and was a definitive message that J5 had returned as unyielding as ever.
“It was great. It was a ground for us to prove ourselves, to see if we could still vibe together and if we still had that bond onstage,” says 7even. “We practised for about two weeks before Coachella and by the second day we could already feel that things were clicking back together. We had about 15 years together as a group – it becomes your second nature. I mean, you can walk away from it, but it’s always going to come straight back.”
It was only a month following their twin Coachella performances that J5 took off on their quest for world domination, touring non-stop throughout the United Kingdom, Spain, Japan, Canada and the United States. “We played around 30 shows last year. We played a killer show at the [O2 Academy] Brixton and then played at a heap of festivals. It was a really good and productive year. It was a great way to kick things off and let everyone know that we’re back.”
Flash-forward to 2014, and after a two-month break, J5 are once again ready to jetset around the globe. “The year has started off great,” says 7even. “We actually just got back from doing a show out at Denver in Colorado. We played up in the Red Rocks [Amphitheatre] to about 7,000 people. It was a great way to kick off. Things are going real well for us.”
Next month will see the legendary hip hop outfit return to Australian shores with its dynamic live show for the first time since 2007 – the tour that preceded J5’s unceremonious split. “We’ve been playing about an-hour-and-a-half-long sets. We just be us. We bring a lot of energy and throw around the classics; we’re interactive with the crowds. We just do what we’re famous for.
“This ain’t our first trip down to Australia. It’s not going to be the first time that people in Australia have seen us. They know what to expect, that’s why they bought a ticket, y’know what I mean? Not to be like that, but they know what J5 does and the level of quality that we like to bring to a show, into our performance. That’s what we’re going to bring, showmanship and energy. It’s going to be memorable.”
Following their touchdown in Australia, J5’s global onslaught will continue well into 2014. “We’ve got a lot of stuff on the books. We’re currently in the early stages of possibly bringing back the Word Of Mouth tour. We’ll be heading back to the UK in the summer. We’ve got quite a lot of tours and festival offers that have been made to us.”
And as for the possibility of hearing some new material? “I will say that you can expect to hear something new from Jurassic 5 in 2014. I won’t say if it’s an album, a single or a video, but you will see something new from Jurassic 5 very soon.”